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' quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coburn: i come to the floor today to talk about the bill that is pending. and i must say, here we go again. and -- and let me just say wha what -- what we're doing today is under the auspices of helping returning veterans get jobs. and there's nothing wrong with wanting to do that, and there's nothing wrong with trying to pay for that. but my contention is, is what
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we're really doing is passing a bill for political reasons that's not going anywhere in the house of representatives so we can say we did things. you know, a couple of points that i would make first is that yesterday, on the anniversary of 9/11, we started the consideration of this bill. this bill has had no hearings, has had no committee work, and essentially has had no debate until today despite the fact that it's going to affect six different federal agencies, at a minimum. before i discuss the bill, though, you know, i want to mention another anniversary. yesterday, one year ago, army
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specialist christopher horton, army speblist bret specialist br and army private tony potter jr. were killed in afghanistan. they were one of 13 oklahomans from the oklahoma national guard serving in afghanistan that paid the ultimate sacrifice, a pure and noble sacrifice. as we debate a bill that will largely benefit those who have safely returned home after serving our country, it's important that we don't forget those who gave this ultimate sacrifice. , this pure and noble benefit for the rest of us. the bill before the senate provides a billion dollars -- a billion -- in mandatory spending.
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what that means for the folks at home is it's not subject to appropriations. it's going to be spent, period, regardless of what we do if we pass this bill and the president signs it. over the five years for the creation of a new mandatory program called the veterans job corps. now, one point i'd like to -- we already have six veteran job programs. not one of them has a metric on it to see if it's working. there hasn't been one hearing to see what the job programs for the -- that we're running now are doing, measure its effectiveness, measure the cost-effectiveness, see if it's actually performing for veterans what we say we want it to do. and we have a bill on the floor that didn't go through that committee, that no hearings were held and we're going to do the same thing again. because there's not a metric in this bill.
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so what -- what's really happening here is we're playing the political election card to say, how could anybody oppose a veterans' job corps? the real question ought to be asked is, how callous to put forth a political bill that may or may not work -- we have no idea -- for purely purposes for an election without looking at the whole veterans' job program. there's not going to be any congressional oversight on this. just two weeks ago, i released a report on job training in my own state.
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i went, was highly effective at looking at every federal government job-training program, veterans and nonveterans alike, in my state, looked at every state job-training program and published a report. here's what it -- here's what it found. and, oh, by the way, we have 47 other job-training programs of which 95% don't have metrics on them, and we spend $19 billion a year on those job-training programs. what we found is, is state-run, state-financed, state-supported job-training programs really work in oklahoma. we actually take our own money, with our own institutions, with our own individuals and our own employees, knowing what businesses and industry and service industry and
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institutions need, match job training to what those needs are and actually put people to work. and consequently, observing has has -- oklahoma has a 4.7 unemployment rate, we're highly effective at training people to the jobs that are available, but we're not very effective with the federal programs. and -- and -- but not very good with federal dollars when it comes to training people with a life skill to people them employed. this legislation is going to provide $1 billion for the federal government to hire veterans on a temporary basis. i understand that senator burr's recommendations are going to be incorporated. that's a marked improvement to the bill.
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his puts them in line for a career, not a temporary job. which shows you the lack of thinking, because here's senator burr, the ranking member on v.a., couldn't get a hearing, didn't have a markup, didn't have a chance for ideas to flow through -- i have four amounts that i'd love to answer to the bill that are better pay-fors that will actually pay for the bill. we come to the floor we're not going to have amendments, what's this really all about? is this about veterans or is this about politicians? i suspect it's about politicians. i u suspect it's about elections and not veterans. the legislation grants broad authority to the department of
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justice, the department of defense, the department of labor, the agriculture department, the commerce department, homeland security, interior department, the army corps of engineers to hiring veterans in jobs such as conservation and first responders. however to comply with the paygo rules, we manipulate the system again. we include revenue increases, equal the cost of the bill; we do that by requiring a continuous levy on payments to medicare payment providers and s and also by revoking passports in cases of seriously delinquent taxpayers. i hear that's going to be pulled. but nobody knows. nobody has seen it. that's why we have committees, so we don't have to play with things before we have a base bill that we know what we can do on. the bill already violates the budget control act's aloe act'sn
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for federal affairs funding. it is subject to a 302(f) point of order because it is outside the bound of their appropriations. the bill states a distinct preference for the veteran vetef iraq by stating that these jobs are for veterans who have served since september 11, 2001. as with the veterans caregiver bill in 2009, this is blatant discrimination against other veterans. one class of veterans is better than other class of veterans? tell me how? did somebody that died in the vietnam war less honorable than somebody who has given their life in afghanistan? yet we're making that distinction in terms of the benefits available to those that served our country honorably? so we're blatantly
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discriminating against veterans who served before 9/11. and i want to also remind us that those veterans that didn't have the post 9/11 g.i. bill, they didn't have the other significant benefits that have come along and been passed out both in pay, benefits, family transfer of the post-9/11 bill or the educational benefits for service that the present veterans have. the other thing that i would remind my colleagues is right in our there is a preference in every branch of federal government for hiring veterans. it's already the law.
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since 1944, the federal government has stated that veterans are honorable or general discharges are preferred for -- in hiring for competitive positions and may also be hired without competition in many cases. in other words, they get an absolute presence. disabled veterans get even a hire preference over nondisabled veterans. veterans also have priority in retention in terms of government downsizing. if you were a veteran, you don't get downsized. if you're not a veteran, you will. senator burr's bill, which it appears the majority will take and add to their bill rather than replace their bill, will direct the office of personnel management to require that each of the 10,000 job vacancies that are presently in the federal government today should be filled by veterans. this would actually provide a real career path for veterans,
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not a temporary make-work job slot that'll go away as soon as the billion dollars runs out. according to a 2011 g.a.o. report, the six job training programs that i outlined, let me tell you what they are, that are already working for veterans, that are already on the books. they're not working, but they are aening 0 the books. we're spending money on it. we have no metrics to know whether they're working or not and we have no oversight, hearing to know whether they're working or not, because none has ever been held. labor department disabled veterans outreach program, job readiness, skills pain, retention training, employment counseling. the reintegration program does everything the first one does. another prime minister which does exactly the same thing as the first two. the labor department transition assistance program which does
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job search and job readiness training. the labor department veterans affair workforce investment which again does all the same tasks that the first two that i mentioned. the veterans affairs rehabilitation for disabled veterans program, which does nearly everything in the area from job training, from employment counseling to job reversion, to on-the-job training to basic asubtle literacy. this bill and those training programs are in addition to the post-9/11 g.i. bill and the tuition assistance program which provides 100% tuition assistance, plus expenses, plus a monthly stipend salary for an unemployed or any other veteran to attend college, vocational training, pursue licens licensuh fees paid for by the federal government and allow them to transfer this benefit to their spouses. wwell, the question i'd have,
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with that benefit -- and we're doing another one now for political purposes, not because we really care about veterans -- why isn't this one working? we're going to spend billions on the post-9/11 g.i. bill. we're going to pay them at the rate of a noncommissionecommissd officer, all the time they're going to college. why isn't that working? where's the oversight hearing to see what we just did two years ago isn't working? instead what we do -- which the congress has done under both democratic and republican -- we're going to throw some more money. we're going to do another one. instead of measuring what works, measuring what we're doing, we're going to create another program. and, granted, it supposedly is only five years. when to comes to five years, what'll happen? whether it works or not, nobody
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will vote against not extending a veterans program, will they? how could you be against veterans? so we won't do the hard work of having committee hearings, we won't do the oversight, we won't even change this bill to make sure it has absolute metrics on what it's doing. so we're continuing down the road to bankruptcy. all in the name of putting a bill that isn't going to passess the house on the senate floor so we can say for one member of the senate or two members of the senate or three members of the senate, they can go home and claim they did something. i think it's hi hypocritical. i don't think it matches the pure valor of the three individuals i aindividuals i me. it doesn't come close, it doesn't measure up. those 13 oklahomans that died in
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this last year in afghanistan from the oklahoma national guard, the thunderbirds, they represented real values of america. this bill doesn't. the post-9/11 g.i. bill pays 100 punish of th-- 100%. so you can go to the best public school paid for completely by the government if you are a post-9/11 veteran. you can get the same equivalent as a noncommissioned officer -- pay -- the time you're doing it. that's what we've already got out there. without this legislation today, any unemployed veteran that can get into a community college can go for free, receive three years of pay, all their expenses paid, their housing paid, all those things paid.
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well, if that isn't working, why isn't it working? where's the hearing to find out why that isn't, working? no, what we're doing is we're just going to pass another bill, without a hearing, without a committee markup, for politically expedient purposes. it's just $1 billion. where's our honor? where's our valor? where's our sacrifice? the department of defense tuition assistance program -- another program. while you're in the military, paid for. all you got to do is make a "c" or better, online be, off-line, whatever way you want to go. so, now, let me summarize. we have the tuition assistance program, we have the post-9/11
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g.i. bill, we have the g.i. bill, we have six separate v.a. job programs, and we have a bill on the floor to do another one, and nobody is asking the question, what's wrong with what we're doing now? and why aren't we fixing -- if what we're doing now isn't work being, why aren't we fixing that? why aren't we going to a. how amendments to fix things? why are we going to fill the tree and not allow the process that our founders designinged to it to work so that all ideas could be considered? no, this is a political exercise. i'm going to call it what it is. this isn't about veterans. this is about politicians. my hope is that we wake up
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before our country fails. when i came to the senate, the average family's debt, responsibility for public debt -- individual -- was $26,000. it's now $51,400-and some odd dollars in the eight years i've been here. we're playing a game. we're thinking short term. we're worried about political careers and elections, but we're not worried about the country. and this is about the greatest example of the incompetence of the congress of the united states i've ever seen.
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i'm for helping veterans. i'm for paying for it. i'm for making sure they get rewards for their service and their sacrifice. this bill isn't it. this is a charade. it is exactly what it is. to call it anything else dishonors the service of those who have defended and protected our country. i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, mr. president. like many of my colleagues before i begin my remarks on the subject that brings me to the floor today, which is the dream act, i'd like to take a moment to reflect on the brutal, unconscionable attacks that occurred on our diplomatic posts in libya and egypt. like many of my colleagues, i am outraged and saddened by the brutal murder of four courageous americans in a cowardly, unconscionable attack on the united states consulate in been gaza, libya, their families families -- benghazi, libya. their families thoughts are in my prayers. these brave diplomats were
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patriots and professionals putting their lives on the line to advance american ideas and interests. their vital work is done daily by countless americans, diplomats abroad who serve in every corner of the world. in my own visit to libya last year, with a number of my colleagues, including senators mccain and senator graham, i saw the vital work and the accomplishment of such brave americans on the ground in great peril and severe danger. i also saw their sense of satisfaction and patriotism in the work that they are doing and i add my voice to my colleagues in asking for more support for
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security, enhanced safeguards and protection for our diplomats in these kinds of situations. they go about their work with understated perseverance and determination, as well as constant courage in the face of often chaotic and unpredictable dangers. the cowardly attacks on these patriots should not deter the people of libya from moving forward. neither should it deter us from working together with others abroad who have a common interest in tolerance, freedom of speech, and democracy. i'd like to commend president obama and secretary clinton for their immediate response to this situation. their words of encouragement and
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wish godspeed to the marine corps fleet antiterrorism security team now en route to libya. the diplomats who were killed in this tragic and brutal action embodied american values, and the highest traditions not only of the professionals among our career diplomats but all who serve and sacrifice for this country in uniform, in very similar situations of danger. the marines who guard our ambassadors as well as -- embassies, as well as the other marines and troops who are fighting on foreign soil to uphold our freedoms. those american values in some sense bring me also to the floor today to talk about the dream
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act. and the young generation of people in our communities in connecticut and across the country who would benefit from this important legislation. our immigration system right now is broken, and is in dire need of comprehensive reform. any comprehensive immigration reform legislation must include the dream act. and i believe that the dream act is worthy of adoption without that comprehensive overarching reform. because these young americans in our communities deserve the opportunity to earn their citizenship, earn their citizenship by contributing to our nation, and that is exactly the opportunity that the dream act seeks to afford them. over this last recess i was pleased to talk to many of those
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dreamers, and i was particularly proud to talk to them about the work that a number of us are doing here to try to achieve and make possible this legislation that would enable and empower them to contribute further. and i am grateful to senator durbin and others who have championed this measure at the federal level much as i have done in the state of connecticut as attorney general and a state official. i was proud also to talk about the department of homeland security deferred action for childhood arrivals policies. this new policy took effect on august 15 when d.h.s. started to accept applications for deferred action. under the deferred action for childhood arrivals, dreamers will have a temporary reprieve.
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i emphasize temporary reprieve, from deportation. this policy step is a good one. it's in the right direction. but it affords only a temporary reprieve. the dream act would afford a permanent -- a permanent path to individuals who qualify, individuals who have entered the united states before the age of 16, they have been brought here by parents who may be undocumented, but young children, many of them much younger than 16, most of them, in fact, younger than 5 or 6 years old, and who have been present in the united states for at least five consecutive years prior to enactment of the bill are here through no fault or action of their own, but who want to be here permanently and
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contribute and give back. and they must have graduated from a united states high school or have obtained a g.e.d., or have been accepted into an institution of higher education. and they must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of application and be of good moral character. these requirements establish a path for people who want to contribute, come here through no fault of their own, the united states is really the only country they've ever lived, usually speak no other language, their life and their friends and their future are here. i want to talk as i hope to do literally every week that i'm
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able about an individual who embodies the dream act. her name is zuti molina. her full name actually is zulima molina but she goes by zuli and she is a proud member of our connecticut community, one of 11,000 to 20,000 young people, 11,000 to 20,000 young people living in connecticut who would benefit from the dream act. zuli is here with us today through her picture and i want to talk about her life which has been full of hardships and challenges. but also her future. she was born in mexico and brought to america when she was 6 years old. her family settled in connecticut, in fact, in new britain.
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and she had to learn english, which wasn't easy for her. in fact, she was taunted and bullied because of her language skills. but she was up for the challenge. she learned english, she speaks it absolutely fluently. she decided to go to the library and translate books on her own so that she would have a command of english. she went through the new britain public schools and graduated from new britain high school in 2008, but at that point there were additional challenges. zuli wanted to stay in connecticut and perhaps attend two years of community college before going to a four-year institution. but she wasn't eligible at that point for an -- for in-state tuition. and the option of staying in connecticut was simply too expensive. what did she do?
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endlessly regloarsful and determined -- regloarsful and community, she decided to commute every day to bay path college in massachusetts. and there she worked in many leadership positions outside of the classroom. she was president of rotor act,about, which is rotary youth's service club for young people. she was vice president of the bay path christian fellowship, she was cocaptain of the cross-country team and graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology becoming the first college graduate in her family. and she felt discouraged even after graduation because she knew she couldn't apply for many jobs that required documentation. and she decided to pursue further education, a master's degree from bay path college in occupational they therapy.
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and she understands now life will not be easy, but her goals of working for a hospital's feeding program and pursuing an m.d. are realistic, and she hopes that she can pursue that profession so she can work for nonprofits that help families with low incomes, not altogether different from the one where she grew up. it has taken many years for zuli to accept and thank her mother for sending her to america. and she would be upset -- more than upset -- if the land of her life, the land that she loves, america, refuses to give her the opportunity to stay here. she has that opportunity
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temporarily with the deferred action for childhood arrivals program. it's an administrative program. it could be ended with a new administration, it could be ended by any administration virtually overnight. she has applied for deferred action and she is undergoing the process, but she deserves more than a temporary reprieve and that is why i stand here urging my colleagues to enable zuli to come out of the shadows to seek a career that will enable her to contribute mightily and monumentally to all of us as a doctor. and to raise a family of her own here as proud united states citizens. to these young people who identify as americans and who were brought to this nation at young ages as children or infants and who are here through
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no fault of their own, i urge my colleagues to offer one of the greatest gifts, one of the greatest privileges that anyone can have, which is united states citizenship so that we can say to the dreamers on someday soon, my fellow americans. thank you, mr. president, and i yield the floor. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. lautenberg: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. lautenberg: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i speak as if -- the presiding officer: we are in a quorum call. mr. lautenberg: -- in morning business and that we dispense with the calling of the quorum. the presiding officer: without objection. the senator from new jersey is recognized, and without objection, he's recognized as if in morning business. mr. lautenberg: mr. president, we're at a moment in time when
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americans across the country are confused by what they're hearing and they -- it's hard to discern the truth from the fiction. and one of the proposal that's being talked about is the republican nominee for vice president, paul ryan, is known for his budget proposals. and we have to look at them squarely and we have to decide what's reliable, what's true, and what is, as i said earlier, fiction. those proposals cut taxes for the rich, raise taxes on the middle class while abandoning the sick, the poor, and our children. the ryan budget can only be good
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for one very small group of americans: the wealthiest among us. and i was one of those fortunate people to succeed in business, succeed in a way that would have been impossible to dream about when i was growing up in a poor family. but i was helped by the united states -- by our country, by our government for my service during the war, during the big war, and so -- i'll talk about that in a moment. but in our democracy, every person gets one vote. and so what do you do as a candidate for national office when your vision for the country is good for the few and bad for the many? you can pretend it's good for
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everybody. you can say it will benefit all americans. in short, you can substitute fiction for truth. this approach was on brilliant display at the republican convention when paul ryan claimed that the republican plan would help the middle class, the help that, frankly, we believe would take us downhill instead of operation uplift. but an article on fox news web site described his convention speech as -- and here i quote -- "an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech." fox. fox conservative communications
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organization. maybe that's why they called him "lie'n ryan. on "this was jest just the most public example of the smoke screen he's been blowing around here for a long time. so today, mr. president, i want to look at the numbers in paul ryan's budget because numbers don't lie, even if some politicians do. now, it's obvious paul ryan doesn't want us -- want you to see the specific programs that he cut but we'll -- let's look at the devastating consequences if his cuts were distributed evenly. under the ryan budget, 200,000 preschool children would be
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kicked out of the head start rolls in 2014. and we have a chart here that clearly says it. now, imagine slashing funding for a program designed to help children how to -- learn how to learn. in our country today in many situations, children don't have parental advice or encouragement to learn. head start is a terrific program because in head start, these children learn that learning is fun so that when they enter school, they're ready to accept learning. they look at it as something that will be interesting and pleasant and worth doing. these cuts are shortsighted and they're cruel.
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and they only harm america's future. as much as $115 billion could be cut from education funding over the next decade if we followed the ryan budget. now, with less support and rising costs for higher education, young people would be forced to take on more debt in order to attend college. and if you talk to college students today, you learn how tough it is so that when you grat wait college, you may have a debt of $50,000 or $100,000. and here they want -- they want the average college student to take on more. it's an yacht rage. so why would anyone put obstacles in front of young people seeking an education? only if it would do them personally some good. they're not concerned about
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those who want to learn or how they emerge into our society. but if you have something that you'd like to tack on to yourself, then maybe a step like that is something you would do. now, i never would have been able to attend columbia university without government help from the g.i. bill. when we came home from world war ii, this country invested in us and that investment helped create the greatest generation and decades of prosperity. the g.i. bill enabled me to cofound one of america's most successful companies, a.d.p. and that company today employs over 50,000 people in more than 23 countries. but instead of offering a helping hand to this generation of students, the ryan proposal closes the door -- the doors in
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their faces. under the ryan budget, government investments in science, technology, and medical research could also be shortchanged, cut by more than a hundred billion dollars over the next ten years. medical research funding alone could take a hit of nearly $6 billion by 2014. and this would delay research on new treatments for diseases like cancer, chilehoo -- childhood aa and juvenile diabetes. we have a chart here that says the republican budget plan take $5.8 billion that would otherwise be used for asthma and juvenile diabetes, cancer, autism and more. and who would want to deliver a
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message to a parent in america that says, "oh, your country cannot provide the funds to cure your children's illness"? the ryan budget also wants to add pain to those dependent on health care programs. instead of reassuring seniors that they can look forward to retirement in good health, he adds anxiety with cuts. he's proposed to end medicare as we know it, giving seniors a voucher instead of a guarantee. now, if that voucher can't cover the cost of needed medical services, republicans' attitude is, too bad, you're on your own. if ryan succeeds, it will the medical beneficiaries that their costs for medical services can be increased as the -- at the will of insurance companies.
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ryan's plan says, all right, cut medicaid. that's the program for the impoverished. cut medicaid by more than $800 billion over a ten-year period. now, med cared is there to provide vital re -- medicaid is there for provide vital nursing home for expectant mothers and nursing home care for seniors. we created medicare and medicaid to be there for seniors and the poor when they got sick. ryan with that sharp knife of his, wants to cut funding and break that promise. it's shameful. mr. president, a budget -- a budget isn't just a selection of numbers. it's an expression of prince tells and priorities. and we shouldn't look at a budget like an auditor.
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we should see it as a way to fulfill the obligations of our democracy, to be there for those who need help. a budget says forward a vision for our nation's future, makes a statement about what counts in america, what are our values. so when we see the budget authored by paul ryan called, "marv let by mitt romney, mitt romney, candidate for the president of the united states by paul ryan, "marvelous." and the bust pass the by the house republicans. we should be diseeply scurved. it's an outrage for recommends to say that we should give the wealth mostiest americans more tabltion breaks as they increase the burden on a middle class already string ling to afford the essentials. who are we going to fights for?
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middle clat families? or the multimillionaires? in our country. last year, or a recent year, 400 people made over 200 million each in the year. should they carry a fair share of the country's opportunities to continue -- rather, to invest in the country than want to shepherd the funds for their own personal use? everybody knows, you can't build a house from the chimney down, and you can't build a balanced society by soaking the poor to feed the rich. at a time when our economy is fighting strong headwinds and too many americans are out of work, paul ryan and his running
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mate offer the same old prescription: tax cuts for the kitch and austerity -- for the rich and austerity for everybody else. but you won't hear this from him. paul ryan likes to distract and distort. he's been hiding the truth about his budget so the american people don't really know what's going on. the bottom line is this: paul ryan knows very well he can't afford to tell the american people what his real agenda is because he knows what would happen. there would knob more buyers for what he's selling. americans are now seeing the values that the republican party and their new leader, paul ryan, are real flighting for. we've let the republicans go their way for eight years now, and it led to the worst economic crisis since the great depression. and very often you'll hear them
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say, well, obama hasn't really done what he should have done. there are 4 million more people working now than there were when he took office. and more people are excited about the health care plan that's been proposed than discouraged by it. because they know that with this health plan that it's going to help them be better, have wellness in their life and it ultimately will reduce costs substantially. and so it goes that way, but rather than help those who could use a boost, could use some support, can use -- to make sure that their kids get educated, to make sure that their parents, the people who built the past generation -- the past generations that built the strength of this country over the years ... you no, rather than hem -- no, rather than help
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them, let's protect the yetiest, -- the wealthiest who don't need the help. during world war ii, there is an excigs tax. that tax was designed to take some of the excess profits that companies were making and now we ought to apply the same logic we have people fighting for their lives in sta afghanistan and otr places. incede of saying, okay -- instead of saying, okay, let's make sure everybody feels like they're included in this great democracy of ours. they're saying, no, no, no ... let them take care of themselves. as a matter of fact, it was suggested by mitt romney, the candidate for president, said that these college students ought to borrow from their parents. in many cases their parents are struggling to keep food on the table and pay the rent or the mortgage.
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so, enough is enough. and there's too much at stake to let ourselves be fooled by their tricks once again. we have to support the programs that have been working. perfectly, not yet. not yet. but getting better all the time. more people going to work and more people view america as an opportunity for them to succeed in life. while i have the floor, i want to pay my respects to ambassador chris stevens' family and to note that the four american heroes were murdered yesterday at the american embassy in ben gabenghazi, libya.
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people who had an assignment to make sure that their country -- america -- was working in libya to try and bridge the gaps that might and that's a terrible, terrible thing that happened. so we all have to note our sorrow. and my deepest condolences are with their families, their friends, and loved ones as they mourn the loss of these patrio patriots. this is a tragedy about which all americans are deeply saddened. with that, mr. president, i
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yield the floor, and i notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll of the senate. quorum call:
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mr. mccain: i ask that the quorum call be suspended and i be allowed to engage in colloquy with the senator from connecticut, senator lieberman, and senator graham from south carolina. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator from arizona is recognized and his request without objection is granted. mr. mccain: mr. president, it's with a heavy heart that i rise today to speak about the horrific attack yesterday on the u.s. consulate in been gaza that
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killed -- benghazi that killed four american citizens. the two confirmed thus far among the dead are slawn smith, an air force veteran turned information management officer and ambassador chris stevens, one of america's finest and bravest foreign service officers. i didn't know sean smith, i know he's a great american who served his country, but i had gotten to know chris stevens quite well. and ambassador chris stevens' death, the libyan people have lost a champion and believer in the peaceful aspirations of their democratic revolution. the american people have lost a selfless and dedicated servant of our interests and our values, and i have lost a friend. my thoughts and prayers today are with chris' family and the loved ones of his fallen
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colleagues. my god grant them comfort in their time of grief. our most urge vent -- urgent order of business is now is to ensure our citizens in libya and egypt and elsewhere across the world are safe. americans look to the government in libya and egypt and elsewhere to meet their responsibilities in this regard. we also look to the libyan government to ensure that those responsible for yesterday's attack in benghazi are swiftly brought to justice. in all of these critical tasks we are confident our government will provide all necessary assistance and support. yesterday's attacks are an important reminder so many of american civilians and diplomats and development professionals are risking everything, everything, to advance our nation's interests and values abroad. we must do everything in our power to ensure their security.
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at the same time, our thoughts turn to broader concerns. the morning of our fallen friends -- mourning of our fallen friends and how we as a nation should respond to these tragic events. one of my most memorable meetings with chris steeives was last april in benghazi. as envoy to the libyan opposition chris had traveled to benghazi at personal risk to represent the country that he loved so much while libya was still gripped in a brutal fight for freedom. it was clear there was nowhere that chris would rather have been than libya. we spent the day together meeting libyan opposition leaders and many ordinary citizens who spoke movingly about how much the opportunity to finally live in freedom meant to them. and how grateful they were for america's support. chris stevens embodied that support, and his passion for his mission was infectious.
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i kept in touch with him often and frequently after my visit, i was very happy when president obama nominated him to be america's ambassador to the new libya. the last time i saw chris stevens was shortly after he had taken up his post during my most recent visit to trip olie. -- tripoli. i remember the lighter moments we spent together including when chris insisted on personally making me a capital ewe china', a -- chan achino, which he deard he carried out with proficiency. that was on the morning of july 7, the day libyans voted in their first election in half a century. chris stevens and i spent the day together again, traveling around tripoli, visiting
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polling places and speaking with libyan voters. we met a man whose father had been murdered by qadhafi's henchmen. we met a woman whose brothers had given their lives fighting for liberation. we met countless others including many older libyans who were voting for the first time in their lives. and everywhere we went, we were greeted by crowds of cheering libyans bursting with pride and eager to shake our hands and express their gratitude for america's support. it was one of the most moving experiences of my life, and it was only made better by the fact that i got to share it with our outstanding ambassador, chris stevens. what we saw together on that day was the real libya, the peaceful desire of millions of people to live in freedom and democracy.
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the immense gratitude they felt for america's support for them. and their strong desire to build a new partnership between our nations. that's why i'm not surprised that senior libyan leaders were among the first to condemn the horrific attack that killed chris and his colleagues, and that's why i was not surprised to learn from our secretary of state that many libyans fought to defend our people and our consulate in benghazi when they came under attack, that some were wounded while doing so. and that it was libyans who sought to get chris and his colleagues to the hospital. and that's why we can't afford to view the despicable acts of violence perpetrate he yet by a small group of fanatics as in any way representative of the country and the people of libya. that's not the real libya.
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the libya that chris stevens knew and learned to love so well. after such a heartbreaking loss for our nation, i know that many americans are asking whether the united states was naive or miss taken to support -- mistaken to support the vast movement for change that cell phone as the arab spring. i know many americans may feel a temptation especially with so many domestic and economic challenges facing us here at home, to distance ourselves from people and events in libya and egypt and elsewhere in the middle east. we cannot afford to go down that path. yesterday's attack in benghazi was the work of a small group of violent extremists whose goals and actions could not be more at odds with those of the people and government of libya. the libyan revolution began
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peacefully and was dedicated throughout to the ideals of freedom and justice and democratic change. and when libyans turned out by the millions to elect a new government in july, they gave the plurality of their vote not to religious fanatics but to a political party led by a moderate tech know carat and -- technospcrat and committed to friendship with the united states. libyans rose up last year to free themselves from exactly the kinds of murderers and terrorists who killed our american citizens yesterday in benghazi. their enemies are our enemies, and they remain as committed as ever to imposing their evil ideology through violence on people in libya and the middle east and ultimately on us. they want to hijack the arab
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spring for their own insidious purposes, and if we turn our backs now on the millions of people in libya and egypt and syria and other countries across the middle east, people who share so many of our values and interests, people who are the true authors of the arab spring, we will hand our common enemies the terrorists and extremists, the very victory that they seek. we were right to take the side of the libyan people and others in the religious who share their peaceful aspirations and we would be gravely mistaken to walk away from them now. to do so would only be a betrayal of everything that chris stevens and his colleagues believed in and ultimately gave their lives for. it would be a betrayal of america's highest values and our own enduring national interest
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in supporting people in the middle east and the world who want to live in peace and freedom. mr. president, i'm pleased to be joined by my friend from connecticut and i know that he shares with me the sorrow that we and all americans feel at the loss of a brave and dedicated american. but it will be a long time before we forget chris stevens, because he will stand as a shining example of patriotism and love of country. chris stevens was not unaware of the danger that he faced. he was privy to intelligence information and others. but he went forward and did his job with a smile, the love of his country, and love of the
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country where he was serving. i cannot be more proud of ambassador chris stevens. mr. lieberman: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. lieberman: mr. president, i thank my friend from arizona for his very eloquent statement. i associate myself with it. it strikes me as i listen that it was no accident that these violent extreme extremists launched this attack on the american consulate in benghazi, tripoli on 9/11, a day of infamy in our history, a day when people across our country and really around the world were commemorating the worst terrorist attack in our history which was september 11, 2001. those who perpetrated the attack on the consulate in benghazi which resulted in the death of our ambassador, chris stevens,
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carried out an act of terrorism and barbarism that they hope will sow fear and hatred between americans and muslims, just as osama bin laden and his followers hoped the attacks of 9/11 would do 11 years ago. but we did not let bin laden succeed then, and we will not let these violent extremists who killed chris stevens yesterday in benghazi succeed in dividing america and the west from muslims and the arab world. well-intentioned people in both great communities will rise up and join together to renounce these extremists and killers. i want speak for a moment about
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ambassador stevens. simply put, chris stevens was one of the finest, bravest, most spirited, most talented diplomats in our nation's service. as a volunteer in the peace corps, he served in morocco where he was inspired to pursue a lifetime of service in the middle east. when the uprising against moammar qadhafi began in february of last year, chris was the deputy chief of mission of our ambassador in tripoli, libya. he was vaikd along with other -- evacuated along with other american personnel from the country but returned to libya within weeks as the special envoy of the united states of america to the opposition there. courageously slipping into rebel-held benghazi on board a cargo freighter. it was an act of bravery that typified chris stevens' service to our country, and his devotion to our nation's ideals
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and his commitment to build bridges between americans and arabs, americans and muslims. chris remained in benghazi throughout the war, standing with the people of libya during some of the darkest and most difficult hours in their struggle for freedom. he became, in fact, the bright symbol of america, heroic and inspiring figure to many libyans. as senator mccain and senator graham and i heard during our visits there and was thus the natural choice of president obama to become our ambassador to tripoli after the cad cads -- qadhafi regime fell. this is why his death at the hand of violent extremists in benghazi which was the seat of the revolution against qadhafi, is so tragic and infuriating. there is obviously much we still
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don't know about what happened at our consulate in benghazi yesterday, but what is clear is that these attackers have to be apprehended and must be punished. i'm encouraged but not surprised by the statements of libya's leaders condemning this attack and i say i'm not surprised because these statements of condemnation of those who killed chris stevens are consistent with what i know the leaders of the new libya to be, what i know to be their profound admiration and love for chris stevens and their respect and gratitude for the united states of america. we look now to the libyan government to act swiftly and decisively and to our own government to provide the libyans whatever support they need to find the attackers and killers. while a specific group of individuals was responsible for
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this evil act and their target immediately was the americans in that consulate, but really their target was the new order in libya. and they were animated in this by an ideology that is now all too familiar to us that we cannot ignore or excuse. this hateful and violent ideology is a threat not just to the lives of americans like chris stevens and the three others who died yesterday in benghazi, but to the future of libya and the future of the muslim world. it is the exact opposite of the ideals that inspired millions of libyans to rise up last year against qadhafi to realize their dreams of a life of dignity, democracy and human rights. for that reason, it is imperative now for those libyan
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people themselves to echo their leaders and condemn this violence and take on the extremists who have taken shelter in their midst and who threaten to hijack their revolution and imperil the future of their country, returning them to days as dark as under qadhafi. i know that the overwhelming majority of libyans reject this violent extremist agenda. they want a good education for their children. they want foreign investment that will create jobs and raise their standard of living. after 42 years of despair and oppression under qadhafi, they badly want again to be part of the world, part of the modern world, and the united states should stand ready and willing to help them on that path. the fact is that the people who killed chris stevens yesterday in benghazi do not represent the
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people of libya or their elected leadership. but these killings require confronting the extremist minority that imperils this future, the fanatics who want a clash of civilizations between muslims and the west and who will try to justify their violence in the name of islam. they are wrong. they are mistaken. they are on the wrong side of history. and finally, let me come back home and say, to echo what senator mccain has said, that i know there will be some here in our country who, in the wake of this attack, will be tempted to argue that it shows that america's support for the libyan revolution was naive or mistaken, that the arab spring will ultimately be defined not by a desire for democracy and freedom among the people of the middle east and arab world, but by the dark fanaticism of al qaeda and its associates and
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united states should give up trying to support people in this part of the world instead of -- and instead retrench back here at home. that would be terribly wrong. that would misunderstand the motivations of the people who have risen up in the arab world to overthrow the totalitarian governments that dominated their lives. they don't want the fanaticism of al qaeda. they want the bright light of a democratic future. we cannot allow what happened yesterday to be a victory for the extremists and the terrorists, because to do so would be a betrayal of everything ambassador chris stevens stood for, which is to say a betrayal of america's best ideals. mr. president, i note the presence on the floor of of the senator from south carolina and i would yield to him at this
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time. mr. graham: thank you. mr. president, i'll speak just very briefly. the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. graham: there's not a whole lot to -- to be added to the eloquent statements of my two friends other than just to be here and to let the family of chris stevens know that we saw in your loved one what you sa saw -- a wonderful man who did great things with a life cut way too short. i don't think most americans can ever appreciate the leadership that chris provided in libya and throughout the world at a time when we needed it the most. so america's lost one of her greatest diplomats. the libyans have lost one of their best friends. and the sphream lost their dear loved one. and the one thing i can say for sure, as senator lieberman just mentioned it, don't compound this tragedy. the worst possible outcome is to take the -- death of this wonderful, noble man and use it
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as an excuse sceus t and withdrm the region andal trough to return to the extremists -- and allow it to return to the extremists. to the americans who are trust frustrated, i totally get it. but the arab spring -- call it what you like -- but it is an historic opportunity to change things in the middle east. but it will not come without fight. what we're trying to do in the mid-east and what the people in the mideast are trying to into have a better life for themselves. if you're a young people, you've been exposed to a life outside of the country life of the country in which you leave and you see it can be better. and quite frankly, you're demanding a better life. you're demanding an equal say if you're a young woman. and you're demanding a class if it's not available to you today. chris stevens risked his live because he understood those ideals were just understood what we were fighting. and the libyan people who who we
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are fighting are the ones who have no interest in this agenda, of being able to choose a better path for young people, to being tolerant, open, accept free markets and have a place where people can live their own dreams. and the world of which we're fighting, your dreams are defined by the ayatollahs. your aspirations are defined by someone else's view of where you should go and what you should be based on their interpretation of god's plan for you. now, that to me is so unacceptable that is com compels people like cis steven cis likeo risk their lives. the people in these countries now have been exposed to a different way of life. given the capacity, they have the will to fight back. but if you think this is going to be done without a struggle, we're kidding ourselves.
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chris knew that. he knew that the fight that was going on for the heart and soul of the arab spring in libya was a fight worth engaging in and, yes, risking one's life for. and what more can you say about a fellow human being, an american than the fact that they realized that their time on earth could be best spent in service of a cause, as senator mccain says, greater than themselves? chris understood what was at stake. he went to a place that he did not have to go. he accepted risks that he could have avoided. and he did it for all the right reasons. and the one thing we should all unite around is that what compelled chris stevens to risk his life is absolutely in our national security interest and that is to get the mideast right, have a second opportunity never known before the mideast to live in peace with people who in the past wanted to kill us all. and i am convinced if we stick
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with it and we learn the lessons of chris stevens' life, we will eventually prevail. because the ones who want to kill us all are really a minority. the ones who would live with us in peace if they could just need our help. and let it be said that chris stevens was there to help. thank you. mr. mccain: i thank my friend for his eloquent words. i'd also again like to emphasize, there was four brave americans -- four -- shawn smith was one of them, a truly great american. there are two others we don't even know their identity. so i hope that the families who have suffered this loss appreciate that we grieve for all. we had the opportunity of knowing chris smith. excuse me, chris stevens. i did meet shawn smith and the
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others. we mourn for them and we thank them for their service to this nation. and i'd just ask my friend from connecticut, wouldn't it be the worst legacy of chris stevens' service to this country would be a movement for the united states to withdraw to fortress america, to renounce our -- our -- our service to the world in helping these countries achieve the same democracy and freedom that our forefathers strived for? i do not mean to use his death as any kind of political agenda, but i think my friend and i remember him well enough to know that the worst outcome of this tragedy would be for the united states to withdraw. in fact, i am confident that if
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he were here, he would be urging us to get right back in, get -- bring these extremists to justice and press on with the democracy and freedom that the people of libya deserve and have earned at great loss of blood and treasure. mr. lieberman: mr. president, i couldn't agree more with my friend from arizona. it would -- it would really dishonor the service of chris stevens and the three other americans who served us in libya if their murders by these extremists led us to retrench and pull out of libya and stop supporting the new libyan government, democratically elected, pull out of other parts of the arab world. that would be exactly the opposite of what ambassador stevens devoted his life to. as i mentioned, inspired by his experience as a peace corps volunteer in morocco, devoted the rest of his life to service
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on america's behalf in the -- in the middle east. the last thing he would want this murder to do is to lead us to pull out, leave the area. and it would also be the fondest hope of the attackers, the extremists. why do that he tack? they attack to kill individual people but they really attack to, as i said before, push america out and create a war between the western world, america and islam. it's not natural. it's not the direction in which history is going. history is going much more towards integration. in fact, the revolution in lib libya, which has gone so successfully when you consider the 40 years of dictatorship they live under. they've held a free election.
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they elected what i would describe as a moderate rule of law, slate to run country. but those uprisings in libya, egypt, tunisia and now in syria are -- are the most profound rejection and defeat for the extremism of al qaeda and its allies and presumably this group that attacked the american consulate in benghazi yesterday. i understand that the results of some of the first elections of -- are unclear, in some sense unsettled to some people here, but the fact is they've chosen democracy. and people are self-governing and they're looking for a better life, and that's exactly the opposite of what bin laden, al qaeda, and i would guess the people who killed chris stevens yesterday desire. so senator mccain is
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absolutely right, this is the day -- i can almost hear chris stevens saying, come on, get up, stay in the fight; don't surrender to the crazies, to the fanatics, to the violent extremists. stand with the overwhelming majority, with the people of libya who want just what we want, a better future for themselves and their families. mr. mccain: i'd just like to say in conclusion i thank my old, dear friend from connecticut and the senator from south carolina. and i finally would just share with my colleagues, on last july 7th, i was in tripoli with chris stevens and it was the first free and fair election the libyan people have ever experienced. as we went from polling place to polling place, we met people who had met -- who had lost brothers, husbands, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers at the hands of one of the more
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brutal butchers that has ever been on earth, moammar qadhafi. that night we went to the square where some 200,000 people driving around, honking horns, celebrating, waving libyan flags, really an auspicious start. and as nor lieberma senator lied out, it was a moderate group who were elected to govern libya but the people of libya. chris stevens was recognized by all of them. they knew chris stevens, and they knew he represented, the united states of america. so those are memories that i will never forget, and i hope that his family will appreciate the magnificent service that chris stevens freud this nation. -- freuprovided to this nation.
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mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. mr. lieberman: mr. president, if i may -- the presiding officer: the senator connecticut. mr. lieberman: i ask unanimous consent for robert morris, who is an intern in the office of the occupant of chair, the senator from oregon, to have privileges of the floor for the balance of the day. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. lieberman: and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. rockefeller: mr. president in ferraro the senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: i ask that the order for the quorum call be reas you understanded. fethe presiding officer: without objection. mr. rockefeller: mr. president, before i say what i originally came down here to say, i want to join my colleagues in condemning the senseless, horrible attack at the u.s. consulate in libya and pay tribute to the four americans, including our ambassador, chris stevens, who were killed. i think all of us hope that the killers will be brought to justice quickly and i suspect that will be the case. our country has lost four true
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public servants in the part of public service which is the least known and sometimes the most important. it's a high calling, public service in general, but especially in dangerous places around the world. ambassador stevens was a serious, dedicated, and highly experienced diplomat with tremendous depth of expertise in libya and the region. he and his colleagues spent their lives working on behalf of the united states of america, and i hope that their proud families and the entire diplomatic corps know that we are deeply grateful as a people. this cowardly attack is a setback, but it will not stop us from our mission of promoting freedom and democracy for the people of libya, and it should not. it will not keep our diplomats from their important work
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overseas. i remember what i was a student in japan, the ambassador there at the time back in the late-1950's was a fellow named dr. edwin reischauer, who was probably at that time the preeminent japanologist in america. and he was a gentle, wonderful, marvelous gentleman that the jeans loved and he was stabbed -- that the japanese loved and he was stabbed in one of those things that can happen. it can happen on american streets, but it can happen on the streets of other countries even with security. some mad person got in and slayed him in a traditional japanese manner with a japanese sword. it was a horrible event, but it enlarged his legend. there was no bitterness from his family or his wife, and it didn't set anything back.
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the person was brought to justice. now, mr. president, i would like to speak also about other ways that we must join together to help those who serve our country, and that is in the creating of job opportunities for our unemployed veterans. we have many veterans and many of them are unemployed or homeless. i talk about the veterans job corps act. this is a responsible investment, and we should do it promptly. standing up for our veterans has been one of the top priorities since i began public service. can't help but be that way if you live in west virginia. i suspect it's true in oregon, lots of places all over the country. by definition it's true. but it's always personal, and the sentiments never wane.
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before i was a senator, the person who held my seat for a long time was senator jennings randolph, and i look his place on the veterans' committee -- i've been on it mao for 28 years -- on it now for 28 years. and it is a glorious committee, brilliantly led by patty murray. and i was chairman once myself, perhaps not quite so brilliantly. so many brave service members, memememe, have brought to defenr way of life. people say that and it is true. and they protect us each and every day. after such courageous and selfless actions, the least that we can do is make sure that when they return home, they get good jobs because they deserve those good jobs. they deserve jobs, and they deserve good jobs. they can be different. military experience builds
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leadership and dedication and bravery and teamwork. and these tax rates are learned from working on the front lines. not everything in the military happens on the front lines, but i just happen to be talking about that particular aspect of it in my short remarks here. no experience could prepare these workers better for the jobs that they hope to do after they leave the military service. i have a nephew who's just come back from afghanistan, and he may be 23, he may be 24, maybe he's 25, but he's almost unreachable in his strength and his patriotism and what has happened to him as a human being
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internally, intellectually and in broad vision. he's grown so large and so great. now he has a job, so i'm not talking about him. but when you have so many brave service members, men and women, who do this, we need to pay attention to them when they come home. critical rhetoric and partisanship have no business in delaying efforts to help our veterans. everybody likes to talk about veterans, and actually a lot of bills do pass but not as many as should. they did not delay or decline when we called them for deployment, so we should not delay now. it's tragic that the unemployment rate for younger returning veterans is so much higher than the national unemployment rate. and in 2011 the unemployment
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rate for young male veterans was over 29%, which is more than 11% higher than non-veterans of precisely the same age. it's heartbreaking that those pro -- who bravely served face unemployment or homelessness. this bill will not solve all problems, but it will solve a bunch of them. west virginians understand the importance of military service with nearly 170,000 west virginia veterans, we need to be sure that they have our full support getting a job, getting health care, getting their pensions. these words come out of one's mouth easily. getting the job done is harder. but the veterans job corps act
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invests in our veterans and in our communities. veterans would have a new opportunity to serve and protect america by gaining priority placement and first responder positions like police officers and firefighters. that makes sense, doesn't it? and emergency medical technicians. our veterans have the experience to do these jobs. they have the instinct to do these jobs. they did it while they served, and our communities need their help. i don't know what's going to happen to the budget, but it's not going to be rosy and happy, and we need to have all those jobs which help protect us and keep us safe in play for our veterans and for others too. it would create conservation and resource management jobs for veterans, enlisting them in efforts to rebuild america through restoration of our forests, parks, coasts and
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public lands. i think the presiding officer would agree that's important. the veterans job corps act would establish a pilot program to provide veterans with access to the internet and computer to assist with job searches and would offer the military's transition assistance program to eligible veterans and their spouses too at sites outside military installations in order to make it easier to relocate in pure suit of job opportunities -- in pursuit of job opportunities. the legislation would also provide veterans in rural areas like west virginia and oregon with greater access to career specialists to help them write resumes and prepare for interviews, basic things and, therefore, to find jobs. the programs in the veterans job corps act are supported by a fully paid-for $1 billion investment in our veterans futures. it's a responsible effort to
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support our veterans and provide help for communities across america. in closing, i would like to especially thank leader reid and chairman murray for working with me to protect west virginia jobs as part of this bill. the veterans job corps act is an important investment in our nation's veterans and our economy, and i hope that we can quickly move this bill through the congress. i thank the chair and i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: i ask the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. a senator: thank you, madam president. mrs. murray: i want to join with the many senators today who have strongly condemned the violent attacks against the men and women serving bravely in our diplomatic corps. the senseless murders in libya are a reminder of the dangers these public servants take on
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every day and the courage that they show in furthering our diplomatic goals all across the globe. we are all so grateful to them, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of ambassador chris stevens and the other victims of this attack, and i stand, as we all do, with the president in supporting efforts to secure those who continue to serve us abroad. madam president, i have come to the floor today to respond to the statements that were made here earlier that are completely inaccurate about the bill that we are currently considering on the floor, the veterans job corps bill. in particular, i want to respond to the baseless and frankly offensive charges that the senator from oklahoma made insinew waiting that supporters of this bill don't -- quote -- "really care about veterans and that this bill -- quote -- " isn't about veterans." madam president, i have been working on veterans' issues in the senate for nearly two decades, and in all of that time
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, under democratic and republican controlled senates, under administrations of both parties and in times of war and peace, if there was one issue i have seen that rises above the day-to-day bomb throwing that often characterizes the debate here, it's been the care and benefits for our veterans. we can certainly disagree about policy, of course. we can fight with all of our hearts for what we think is right, but never, never have i seen accusations that one party or one group wasn't fighting for what they believe to be right for our veterans. in fact, the accusations leveled on the floor earlier today were one of the biggest departures from the spirit of cooperation around veterans' issues that i have seen in my time in the senate. so i'm here today to set the record straight about the steps this bill takes to put our veterans back to work, and in
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doing so, i will not question the motives or the degree to which those who may oppose this legislation care for our veterans because as chairman of the senate veterans affairs committee myself, i see republicans' commitment every single day. i won't level allegations designed to make our veterans political pawns, and i certainly will not mislead anyone about what we have set out to do. i won't because honestly i believe our veterans deserve far better. what they and the american people deserve is the truth. the truth is that caring for our veterans and helping to provide them with the training they need to find jobs when they return home is a cost of the war we have fought for the last decade. the truth is that less than 1% of u.s. citizens serve and sacrifice for the well-being of the other 99%, and the truth is that what the senator from oklahoma calls a charade is an
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effort to give those veterans as many avenues as possible to find work. it's an evident to give them the economic security and self-esteem that only a job can provide and that is so essential to their return home. now, i understand that it has taken some in the senate a long time to come to grips with the fact that in our fiscal commitment to those who wear the -- that our fiscal commitment that we owe to those who wear the uniform does not end the day they are discharged. but the truth is it's not enough to give our veterans a pat on the back for their military service. we also have to give them a helping hand into the job market today. it's the jobs report that was released last month reminds us, we have over 720,000 unemployed veterans across the nation, including over 225,000 veterans
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who served since september 11. despite what the senator from oklahoma may have said, this bill makes the resources available to all of them. that is exactly why we brought this bill forward. what we need right now is an all hands on deck all of the above strategy. that's why, in fact, that this bill includes both democratic and republican ideas. this is a bill that will increase training and hiring opportunities for all veterans using proven job training programs from across the country. for instance, it increases grants under the cops programs that we have seen work to train and hire qualified veterans to work as police officers, firefighters and other first responders. now, this is at a time when 85% of law enforcement agencies were forced to reduce their budgets last year.
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it comes at a time when we face a $10 billion maintenance backlog for our public lands. this bill will help train and hire veterans to restore and protect our national state and tribal forests, our parks and other public lands. because training and hiring our veterans has never been and should never be an effort that divides us, we have included a host of republican ideas into this bill. we included a bill from senator toomey that gives veterans increased access to computers and internet tools to help them find jobs in in-demand areas in their own communities. we included a bill sponsored by senator boozman that will increase transition assistance programs for eligible veterans and their spouses, and we included a very important provision from senators on both sides of the aisle that will help force our states to consider the military experience of our veterans when they issue licenses and certifications, something we have all heard when
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we go home. now, we figured that this comprehensive, bipartisan approach would certainly be enough to gain republican support, even if it did come as we are, of course, inching closer to an election, but over the course of the last 48 hours or so, we have heard that republicans, including senator burr, who is the ranking member of my committee, had an alternative version of the bill that republicans wanted to push forward. senator burr's bill includes a system to have states certify military experience for job skills and help veterans get hired into the federal work force, among a number of other provisions. now, it appeared to all of us that this late alternative might derail what i believe can be and ought to be a bipartisan effort, but again, madam president, we are committed to making this a bipartisan effort. so instead of showing our veterans that we are just about gridlock and partisanship, here is what we have done.
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because i -- as i said before, this has to be an all of the above approach. we have, therefore, added every one of the provisions in senator burr's alternative to our bill. and now i believe we have an even more bipartisan, more inclusive bill on the floor right now waiting action. this is a bill that is paid for with offsets that both republicans and democrats have supported, and it is a bill unquestionably that represents ideas from both sides of the aisle, including now from the chairman and the ranking member of the senate veterans affairs committee. there is no reason now that republicans should not join us in passing this bill and passing it quickly, because, madam president, this does not have to be an either/or situation. neither party has the magic bullet to solve this problem, so we have to open as many proven opportunities to employment as we can.
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you know, veterans are out there watching and waiting. they are tired of excuses and they certainly have no stomach for the kind of political posturing we saw earlier today that comes only at their expense. now, i know some republicans have pointed to the calendar as the reason for their opposition to this bill, and honestly, madam president, i wish it wasn't september and we didn't have to deal with this silly season here in washington, d.c. but who could care less about what month it is or how many days there are before an election? here's the issue. nearly one million unemployed veterans are looking for work today. they are concerned about what jobs are available in their community. their concern is what training program they can take advantage of and what's being done to honor their two or three hours overseas. this is a bill now that offers them new resources to answer those questions. it is a bill that will help them
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serve their community and help them provide honorably for their families. i truly hope now with the change that we have added to add senator burr's alternative to our overall bill, we will have overcome the last hurdle before passage, and i would come to the floor today to urge republicans to join us now in rising above politics like we have done time and time and time again for our √∑eterans. ignore the calendar and the chatter about who is up and who's down. this is about making sure our veterans come first had week and every week and that we intend to keep our commitment to their service. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor and i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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U.S. Senate
CSPAN September 12, 2012 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT


TOPIC FREQUENCY Libya 41, Chris Stevens 38, America 32, Us 23, United States 12, Paul Ryan 10, Oklahoma 8, Tripoli 6, Mr. Lieberman 6, Madam 5, Connecticut 5, Mccain 5, Afghanistan 5, Mr. Lautenberg 4, Mr. Mccain 4, Virginia 4, South Carolina 3, Graham 3, New Britain 3, Oregon 3
Network CSPAN
Duration 05:00:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 91 (627 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

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